After 5-yr battle for Rs 440, ‘wronged’ passenger wins case against railways

  • | Sunday | 12th November, 2023

AGRA: In a battle spanning more than five years and 45 hearings, a 63-year-old man in Agra wrestled with the railways for a paltry sum of Rs 440 and, against all odds, emerged victorious. The tussle finally reached its end when the Agra District Consumer Forum court ruled in his favor, ordering the Railways to hand over the amount along with a 7% annual interest.If they delayed payment beyond 45 days, the interest would jump to 9%. On top of that, they were asked to cough up an extra Rs 8,000 for causing financial and mental distress, alongside the legal fees, to the complainant.This saga began back in 2017, when Munnalal Agarwal bought a 2nd AC ticket through Tatkal quota to travel from Banda junction to Agra Cantt station in the Uttar Pradesh Sampark Kranti Express for Rs 1,570. However, when the train chugged into the station, it had no 2nd AC coach attached to it. I sprinted across the platform, and jumped into any coach I could, he said. Once the train started moving, instead of the comfort he paid for, the TTE allotted him a seat in the 3rd AC coach, an option cheaper by Rs 440. It was a chaotic scene, Munnalal recounted. In the 3rd AC coach, I discovered that the seat I was assigned tp someone else and was already occupied, he said. His aim for a relaxed journey due to ill health turned into a struggle. He voiced his objections, but the TTE shrugged them off. The ordeal worsened his health, he said.Despite Munnalals efforts, the extra money he shelled out was never returned. After not getting any response to complaints filed online and through letters, Munnalal issued a legal notice to the North Central Railways on November 28, 2017. He got a response after five months on April 10, 2018, with the railways not recognising the grievance as genuine. After fruitless attempts through complaints and legal notices, Munnalal decided to take the railways to the Agra District Consumer Forum in September 2018. The railways tried to dodge the case, saying the complaint should be handled by a railway claims tribunal, but Munnalal and his team cited Supreme Court precedents to prove their point. A resident of Kamla Nagar locality, Munnalal, a former retailer of sweets and biscuits, could have easily afforded to let go of the Rs 440 he lost. However, he saw this as a fight for every passenger who had to bear a similar plight. For him, it wasnt just about the money; it was a stand for consumer rights. Munnalal said, Several other passengers who had booked the ticket for the 2nd AC coach had to suffer. Following my troublesome experience, I decided to fix accountability with the railways. He added, This was always about a fight for consumer rights. Not acting against wrongdoing paves the way for corruption and injustice on a larger scale. It was a long, tiring legal battle, and I am delighted to have achieved my purpose.

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